Maple Leafs head home with thrilling double-OT win
Kasperi Kapanen scores twice, including game-winner
The Toronto Maple Leafs don't seem to care that they're young, inexperienced and not expected to topple the Washington Capitals.
It certainly hasn't mattered so far with the Leafs snatching Game 2 in double overtime on Saturday night 4-3 to even up their best-of-seven series at a game apiece. They nearly had Game 1, too, and have almost certainly struck fear in the hearts of a Capitals squad that's vying for its first Stanley Cup and suffered many post-season disappointments.
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"I think we've proven to everybody that we can play with these guys," said Kasperi Kapanen, who scored twice in Game 2, including the double OT winner. "We're the underdogs for sure. But the way we've been playing — and I think we can be better in certain areas — we're going to give them a run for their money."
The Leafs head back to Toronto for Game 3 on Monday night feeling like they've got a shot to not only make some noise, but possibly even beat the best team in hockey during the regular season.
"We don't expect to just have an experience," said Frederik Andersen, who made 47 saves. "Everyone's talked about how it's been (unexpected) for us just to make the playoffs, but we want to do more."
Beyond Kapanen were improved Game 2 efforts from Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman and another sneaky effort from William Nylander, who had five shots and almost 70 per cent puck possession.
The trio of rookies were the Leafs most effective, especially as the game wore on.
Even another lost lead didn't ultimately deter Toronto, one that saw Nicklas Backstrom even the score at three with just over seven minutes left in regulation. The Leafs had already come back from a 2-1 deficit, with Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson both scoring on the power play for Washington, and then went back in front again on a power-play goal from Rielly.
In Game 1, the Leafs raced in front 2-0, only to lose in overtime. They left that game with a sense of confidence and a belief that they could hang with the Caps. That feeling grew a little more on Saturday night.
"We're going to get better and better in the series obviously as our confidence grows," Babcock said.
Added Kapanen: "I'm really excited to go to Toronto to see how the fans are going to be for our two games. It's going to be wild."